Baby suffocated in sling prompts mother to caution parents who use the method

Five-week-old Eric Matthews died after his parents took him for a walk
  • @kashmiragander

A mother has warned parents against the dangers of using slings to carry babies, after her five-week-old baby accidentally suffocated during a short walk on Christmas Eve.

Eric Matthews’ mother Marianne was attempting to calm the crying infant during the ten-minute-long stroll, when he stopped breathing, the The Times reported.

Coroner Dr Richard Brittain told an inquest that the incident and similar cases "raise some concerns as to the safety of the slings." He called the death “extremely tragic” and ruled that Eric had died because his airways had become blocked, and that his parents were not at fault.

Dr Malone, the paediatric pathologist who carried out the post-mortem examination on Eric, citied during the inquest that six other children in the UK had died slings, with 16 children dying in the US and Canada.

35-year-old textile artist Mrs Matthews, who was present at the inquest with her 48-year-old partner Robert, said she had positioned Eric according to a parenting manual that advised that he would be safest against her chest.

Returning home, they noticed that the baby had blood coming out of his nose and had stopped breathing.

Mr Matthews, from Harrow in North London, told St Pancras Coroner’s Court: “We went for a short walk with him. He was in the sling.

“He was crying in the beginning, then he stopped crying. On the way back he was falling asleep. When we got home we found he wasn’t breathing.”

The couple then performed emergency CPR on the infant, but eight days later, Eric died in Great Ormond Street Hospital.

During the inquest Mrs Matthews warned parents against the dangers of the carrying method.

“I don’t want to scaremonger but I think it [the dangers] isn’t known about,” the newspaper reported.

“All the baby books say that slings are good for babies. We knew the cot death stuff about babies on their backs that is really well known. But we didn’t know about this at all.”

Following the incident, Mrs Matthews has set up a charity webpage in aid of the hospital that cared for her baby.

She wrote on the the Justgiving page: "Eric’s short life has made us want to give something back to those who helped us in those difficult last days.  The amazing people at Great Ormond Street showed great care and dedication."

The page called Remembering Eric Laser Matthews had received £2,677 worth of donations by Friday afternoon.

Victoria War from Babywearing UK told the The Times: "Parents using slings should follow the TICKS advice: Keep your baby Tight, In view, Close enough to kiss, Keep their chin off their chest, and Supported back.

"The ideal position is usually an upright one, and you should check the baby frequently, particularly if they show signs of distress, suddenly stop crying, or make any unusual sounds."